Wikia

Camerapedia Wiki

Pearl (6×9 self-erecting)

5,978pages on
this wiki
Talk19
Japanese older 6×9 (edit)
folding First Center | First Roll | Kinka Roll | Lyra (6×9) | Pearl No.3 | Pearl No.2 | Year-Eight Pearl | Reex | Royal Junior
box Dox | Sakura (box)
3×4 and 4×4, 4×5 and 4×6.5, 4.5×6, 6×6 and plate ->
Modern 6×9 RF and SLR ->

The name Pearl (パール) was given by Konishi Honten and Konishiroku Honten (the later Konica) to many models of rollfilm folders.[1] This article deals with the 6×9cm self-erecting models, sold from 1933 to the immediate postwar period.

See also Pearl (for plates and rollfilm), Pearl No.2 (for 6×9 or above); Semi Pearl, Pearl I–III, Pearl IV (for 4.5×6); Baby Pearl and Pearlette (for 127 film).

"Spring camera" Edit

The Pearl sold from 1933 onwards are vertical folders with a self-erecting lens. It was the first Japanese folding camera whose lens would spring to the ready when the body was opened. This innovation very quickly became as ubiquitous among Japanese as among other folding cameras, to the point where "spring camera" (supuringu kamera) became the standard Japanese term for a folding camera. Japanese accounts of domestically produced "spring cameras" of course start with the Year-Eight Pearl, which thus has rather more historical significance within Japan than those unfamiliar with the Japanese term might guess.

Common features Edit

The Pearl appears to be a copy of the Ikonta (520/2) released in 1929 by Zeiss Ikon, from which it retains the octagonal body sides, strut arrangement and self-erecting mechanism; however, focusing moves the entire lens and shutter assembly, mounted on a helical, and not merely the frontmost element.

All the models have an eye-level finder on the body side and a brilliant finder on the front standard. The advance key is at the top right — as seen by the photographer holding the camera vertically — and the release button for the folding bed is placed next to it. There are two tripod threads: under the folding bed and opposite the advance key. The back is hinged to the bottom, and has a depth-of-field table attached towards the top. The film advance is controlled via two red windows, allowing to take 4.5×6cm exposures with a mask in the exposure chamber.

The lens and shutter unit as a whole is mounted on a helix driven by a small tab, allowing to focus down to 2m. This feature was quite unusual on folding cameras in the 1930s, and was an improvement on the original Ikonta design. It is not known if the Japanese engineers chose this solution because it was theoretically better, or because they did not master the computations involved by front-focusing lenses: these were only recently introduced on the Ikonta, whereas the first Japanese camera lenses were commercially available for two years only.

The Year-Eight Pearl Edit

The Pearl camera released in April 1933 is called Year-Eight Pearl (an arbitrary translation of 八年型パール, hachinen-gata Pāru) after the release year, the eighth of the Shōwa era.[2] The name was perhaps used at the time for advertising — this is confirmed for the similarly named "Year-Eight Idea" but not for the Pearl.

The camera has a folding optical finder on the body side, with two hairlines on the front element to delineate the field of view for 4.5×6cm exposures, and a blue-tinted round eyepiece. The two red windows are uncovered, and have a characteristic shape with a round indent allowing to see the number before it comes into the proper position. At the time of the release, the lens was announced as a Zion 10.5cm f/6.3 or f/4.5, certainly a triplet designed by Rokuoh-sha and manufactured by Asahi Kōgaku, and there was a choice between two everset shutters made by Rokuoh-sha: an Apus (アパス, copy of the German Vario; T, B, 25, 50, 100) or a Zeus (ゼウス, copy of the German Ibsor; T, B, 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 125).[3] Both shutters have two blades, a dial at the top, and a thread and needle release device (a crude replacement for a self-timer). The prices reportedly ranged from ¥43 (f/6.3, Apus) to ¥58 (f/4.5, Zeus).[4] The Zion was swiftly replaced by or renamed as the Optor, again a triplet, and the Zeus shutter became the Durax, with similar features.[5] (No actual example of the Pearl has been found with a Zion lens or Zeus shutter, but some Zion lenses are known on Pearlette cameras.) Surviving examples of the Pearl are known with all four combinations of the Optor f/6.3 and f/4.5 lenses with the Apus and Durax shutters.[6] Some cameras have frame finders instead of the main optical finder, this might be the standard equipment of the first examples produced, or the result of a later repair.[7]

After some time, the back was modified with a single slider to cover both red windows, perhaps with the introduction of the Sakura Pan F panchromatic film by Rokuoh-sha in January 1936,[8] and surely before the introduction of the Hexar lens (see below). This feature is sometimes presented as defining the "Year-Eleven Pearl" (11年型パール, jūichinen-gata Pāru), but this name was recently invented by collectors and is rarely used, the camera being merely called "Pearl" at the time.[9]

Hexar lens and rangefinder equipment Edit

In November 1936 was announced an additional lens option: the Hexar f/4.5, only available with the Durax shutter.[10] When this option was introduced, it was simply presented as a "new Pearl camera" (新型パールカメラ).[11] The Hexar is a Tessar-based design with four elements in three groups, made by Rokuoh-sha, and which had earlier appeared on the Tropical Lily. It originally appeared in 11.5cm focal length, which was later supplemented by 10.5cm and 12cm.[12] (The metal depth-of-field plate attached to the back is adapted for each focal length.)[13] All the cameras with Hexar lens observed so far have covered red windows.[14]

From December 1936,[15] the Pearl was offered in a special version, whose main finder is offset to the far left (as seen by the photographer holding the camera horizontally), above the hinge, thereby making space for a separate, horizontal rangefinder. The clip-on device is attached via an L-shaped metal part to a shoe added to the camera's top plate, larger than the standard accessory shoe found on most other cameras.[16] Today, this version is sometimes called "Rangefinder Pearl" (距離計付パール); at the time, it was announced as the "rangefinder-equipped Pearl camera" (距離計を備えたパールカメラ).[17] It was offered with all five lens and shutter combinations, and the prices reportedly ranged from ¥55 to ¥85, including the rangefinder.[18]

The "Sakura" brand rangefinder supplied with the Rangefinder Pearl is a device of high quality, with a baselength of 60mm (and calibrated in metres).[19] It is black and inscribed with a stylized cherry blossom (sakura) leaf in the centre of which is a stylized character 六: the roku (literally "six") of both Konishiroku and Rokuoh-sha. As well as being part of a set with the camera, the rangefinder was sold separately for ¥12, in both metre and foot versions.[20] For owners of a regular Pearl, the conversion to the rangefinder-equipped version was offered for free.[21]

The regular Pearl continued to be available after the introduction of the rangefinder-equipped version. An advertisement in Kogata Camera February 1937 gives the price of ¥43 with an Optor f/6.3 (unchanged since 1933) and ¥73 with an Hexar f/4.5.[22]

Luxury Pearl Edit

The Luxury Pearl (高級パール, Kōkyū Pāru)[23] was announced in Sakura no Kuni in October 1937.[24] It has a folding Albada finder on the top, sometimes central, sometimes offset for an accessory shoe and rangefinder.[25] Three two lens/shutter combinations were offered: a Hexar 10.5cm f/4.5 lens with an imported Compur-Rapid (T, B, 1–400) or Durax shutter (T, B, 1–125), and a Simlar 10.5cm f/4.5 lens from Tōkyō Kōgaku with a rim-set Leo shutter (T, B, 1–250) by Seikōsha.[26] Prices of ¥105 (with Simlar and Leo) and ¥145 (with Hexar and Compur-Rapid) have been reported.[27] Actual examples have been observed with the national combinations, but none with the Compur-Rapid.[28]

The Albada finder and the expensive lens/shutter combinations were shared with the New Lily released the same year 1937. It is said that Konishiroku bought Simlar lenses and Leo shutters after the Rokuoh-sha factory became increasingly involved into military contracts, and could not cope with the production of civilian lenses and shutters any more.[29] Another explanation for the adoption of the Leo, actually a rebadged Seikosha, was perhaps that Rokuoh-sha was lacking a suitable high-specification shutter to replace the Compur-Rapid after the stock of imported parts dried out, and had to turn to an external supplier.

The regular Pearl model continued to be offered along with the Luxury Pearl, and the Leo and Simlar combination is sometimes found on cameras with a Newton finder only.[30]

The Pearl is mentioned in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, in five versions called "Pearl I" (¥45), "Pearl II" (¥56), "Pearl III" (¥61), "Pearl IV" and "Special Pearl" (both at ¥103), with no further details.[31] The version with Hexar lens and Durax shutter still appears under the name "Pearl II" in the April 1943 government inquiry on Japanese camera production.[32]

Demise of the big Pearl Edit

The Pearl does not seem to have been developed further. Stocks of parts were still assembled into whole cameras after the war,[33] when its lack of a body shutter release and its consumption of film would have made it seem old-fashioned and extravagant. It is probable that very few were sold, and that they were indistinguishable from the wartime cameras. The retail price was fixed at ¥2,330 in June 1946, about the same as a Semi Pearl (¥2,050 to ¥2,600) but as much as an Olympus Six (¥2,350 to ¥2,640).[34] From 1949, Konishiroku would skip the qualifier "Semi" and use the name "Pearl" alone again for its 4.5×6 folders. The big Pearl was not the last 6×9cm folding camera made in Japan, this dubious distinction belonging to the hardly known Royal Junior.

Notes Edit

  1. "Pearl" is written in roman script on most or all of these models. In Japanese, the line was and is called Pāru (i.e. the English word "Pearl" within Japanese phonology): the Japanese word for "pearl" is shinju (真珠), but this does not seem ever to have been applied to the camera. None of the cameras dealt with in this article was exported, and it is unlikely that any was either labeled or advertised with any roman script other than "Pearl". Thus the choice of names within this article is sometimes difficult.
  2. Release month: Yamawaki, p.109 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, and this page of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology.
  3. Tanaka, p.58 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8 and p.43 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10; Hagiya, pp.40 and 42–3 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76; Japanese Historical Camera, p.18; Konika-Minoruta-ten, p.6.
  4. Hagiya, p.40 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76; Lewis, p.50. Yamawaki, p.109 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, quotes similar prices: ¥43 (f/6.3, Apus), ¥48 (f/4.5, Apus), ¥53 (f/6.3, Durax), ¥58 (f/4.5, Durax).
  5. Tanaka, p.58 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8 and p.43 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  6. Optor f/6.3, Apus: examples pictured in Sugiyama, item 1115, in Yamawaki, p.108 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, in Tanaka, p.58 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8, and sold as lot no.721 of Westlicht Photographica Auction no.11. Optor f/4.5, Apus: example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1116, in Tanaka, p.43 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. Optor f/6.3, Durax: example pictured here at Neco's collection. Optor f/4.5, Durax: examples pictured in Sugiyama, item 1114, in Tanaka, p.58 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8, in Sakai, p.11 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, in Hagiya, p.40 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76, in Miyazaki, p.11, here, here and here at Neco's collection, and observed in online auctions. Known lens numbers from 7974 to 15782.
  7. Example with frame finder, Optor f/6.3 and Apus pictured in Yamawaki, p.108 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4.
  8. This is suggested for the Baby Pearl in an article by Masaki Masayoshi (正木正佳) on p.46 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  9. The name "Year-Eleven Pearl" is only found in the article by Hagiya in Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76, and in an earlier version of this page.
  10. Hagiya, p.42 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76.
  11. Hagiya, p.42 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76, from the November 1936 issue of Sakura no Kuni.
  12. Originally in 11.5cm focal length: Hagiya, p.42 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76. Examples with 10.5cm, 11.5cm and 12cm focal length are pictured in the same article.
  13. Hagiya, pp.41–2 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76.
  14. Hexar 11.5cm, Durax: examples pictured in Tanaka, p.43 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10 (offset frame finder, perhaps not original), in Hagiya, pp.41–2 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76, and observed in an online auction, known lens number 2586. Hexar 12cm, Durax: examples pictured in Hagiya, p.41 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76 (offset finder) and in Yazawa, pp.9–12 of Camera Collectors' News no.276 (offset finder). Hexar 10.5cm, Durax: examples pictured in Hagiya, p.41 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76, here at Neco's collection and observed in online auctions, known lens numbers from 3149 to 5126.
  15. Release date: Yamawaki, pp.108–9 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4; Hagiya, p.42 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76. Lewis says 1935 on p.53, surely by mistake.
  16. Larger accessory shoe: Yazawa, p.10 of Camera Collectors' News no.276.
  17. Hagiya, p.42 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76, from the December 1936 issue of Sakura no Kuni.
  18. Yamawaki, p.109 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, listing all five lens and shutter combinations for the rangefinder model. Tanaka says ¥60 to ¥85 on p.43 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  19. Baselength: Yamawaki, p.108 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4; Tanaka, p.58 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8 and p.43 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. Calibrated in metres: Hagiya, p.42 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76.
  20. Hagiya, p.42 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76. The price is confirmed in Yamawaki, p.109 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4.
  21. Yamawaki, p.109 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4; Tanaka, p.58 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8 and p.43 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10; Hagiya, p.42 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76.
  22. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.82.
  23. The translation "Luxury Pearl" is arbitrary, and previous versions of this page had the equally arbitrary "High-Grade Pearl" instead.
  24. Hagiya, p.43 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76. The date is given as November 1937 in Yamawaki, p.109 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, and Tanaka, p.58 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8.
  25. Central: example pictured in Tanaka, p.58 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8 and p.44 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. Offset: example pictured in Hagiya, pp.42–3 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76.
  26. Yamawaki, p.109 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4; Tanaka, p.58 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8 and p.44 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10; Hagiya, p.43 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76.
  27. Yamawaki, p.109 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4.
  28. Simlar and Leo: examples pictured in Yamawaki, p.108 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, in Tanaka, p.58 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8, in Tanaka, p.43 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, in Hagiya, p.42 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.76 (offset finder), in this page of the AJCC, and observed in an online auction. Hexar and Durax: example pictured in Yamawaki, p.108 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4.
  29. Tanaka, p.44 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  30. Example observed in an online auction.
  31. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 6, sections 1, 2, 3, 4.
  32. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), item 198.
  33. Tanaka, p.58 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8 and p.44 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. This is not mentioned in Miyazaki, certainly because only few examples were sold.
  34. See full reference in the page on Japanese prices#1946, June (controlled prices). Similar information is given in Lewis, p.60, but with typos.

Sources and further reading Edit

Links Edit

In English:

In Japanese:


Konishiroku prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
plate hand cameras stereo hand cameras strut folders box telephoto SLR
Idea (original) | Idea A | Idea B | Idea Snap | Idea No.1 | Idea (metal) | Lily (original) | Lily (horizontal) | Lily (metal) | Tropical Lily | Noble | Ohca | Sakura Palace | Sakura Pocket Prano | Sakura Prano Idea Binocular | Sakura Binocular Prano Minimum Idea | Idea Spring | Korok Champion | Cherry | Sakura Army | Sakura Honor | Sakura Navy Idea Telephoto Idea Reflex (1910 and 1911) | Idea Reflex (1932) | Neat Reflex | Sakura Reflex Prano
rollfilm folders box or collapsible TLR
Pearlette | Special Pearlette | B Pearlette | Pearl (for plates and rollfilm) | Pearl No.2 | Pearl (Year 8) | Baby Pearl | Semi Pearl | Sakura Palace Record | Sakura (box) | Sakura (bakelite) Sakura-flex

Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki